It’s really crowded in this head of mine

I had a super, terrible, bad week.  It was just one of those weeks that kicked me six ways to Sunday.  (I just looked up what that phrase meant, by the way, and it still doesn’t make sense, but it rolls off the tongue well.)  Regardless, there was much crying and gnashing of teeth.

I wanted to do this:


This is what I felt I actually accomplished:

Home P2

I feel lucky that I realized my error.

In truth, I am sure that I was more and accomplished more than I actually feel like I did.  My problem is that I get caught up in my own head.   If it is possible to think too much, I do it.  Some thoughts are on a perpetual loop, playing over and over in my head; some thoughts are like boomerangs, they come in, fly around, then leave, and their trajectory is a little wild.  Some thoughts are like flocks of geese — they have their own seasonal pattern and can be counted on to show up on a recurring basis.  And some are like fire crackers — they are just popping off randomly — boom!  Boom, boom!  BOOM!  Boom, boom, boom!  BOOOOOOM!  It’s madness up there.

I have mentioned before that I have fought (and won) battles with depression in the past, involving some therapy.  During therapy I learned that some of my depression is caused by this conflagration of thoughts in my head.  I’ve tried lots of exercises to calm my mind, to strive for mindfulness, to concentrate on one thing.  It’s difficult, but it can be done.

That’s one reason why reading is so relaxing to me — I can turn my own thoughts off while I read.  It’s soothing.

Matt and I recently had a conversation that highlighted how differently we approached our surroundings:

me:  I’ve been thinking about finding another lawyer to do our wills.  I need to find someone to take Louie [my dog] if something happens to me.

Matt:  ok

me:  I talked to Mom and she said that she was sure that you would keep him if I died, but I know that you wouldn’t really want to.  And I don’t want you to be burdened and he shouldn’t be a burden to someone.  So I need to find a lawyer.

Matt:  this is what you have been thinking about?  Worrying about dying and what would happen with your dog if you did?  It must be hell being in your head.

me:  it is!  It is hell worrying about all this stuff.  Don’t you worry about stuff like this?

Matt:  no.

me:  well, what do you think about?

Matt:  kayaks.

I love that about Matt.  He helps keep me stable.  It would be awful around here if there were two of us all caught up in our heads.

Now, next week, I’m going to do some Epic Shit.  It’s a promise to myself and all my pesky thoughts.

I’ve read it all….

I just read something that I think is pretty silly.

As background, this is what has been taking up a lot of my time for the last two months:



Louie was my Christmas present to myself.  He’s a little ball of love.  And a little ball of work.  My schedule has changed, I had to hire a dog trainer to come to the house to help with housebreaking, we’re visiting a doggie day care tomorrow to see about him staying there two times a week so that I don’t have to get up and leave meetings every day of the week to go and let him out….

He’s worth it.

One of his little idiosyncracies is that he shakes a lot.  As in starts at the head and shakes all the way down (I would say from his head to his tail but French bulldogs don’t have tails).

So, I did what anyone would do:  I looked up “Why do dogs shake?” on Google.

The first article that came back was from Modern Dog magazine.  The article proposes that dogs shake because humans are showing them love in ways that their canine brains can’t process.

Emotion is energy-in-motion, which is why the more emotional we feel the more animated we become and want to move. And as energy emotion has an internal dynamic of movement that works quite like the tides in that there is a rising and an ebbing effect. When emotion sweeps over us, we can feel it surge as if we’re a tidal basin being flooded with a wave, and then these effects slowly subside and in fact can linger for a very long time. So in the animal mind, when there is an input of love that falls outside this natural rhythm, the canine mind doesn’t necessarily process it as love, but rather as social pressure, which to a dog is equivalent to pain and since the emotional circuitry piggybacks on the most basic systems of physiology, the dog shakes it off.

WTF?  The dog mind can’t process love, but it can process social pressure?  PUH-LEEZE!  Glad I haven’t subscribed to Modern Dog.

Then I went to the other most visited site for information:  YouTube.

Another WTF moment.  There has actually been scientific work on dog shaking water off its coat.

If you have time to watch this video — DO!  The scientists involved actually videoed (in slow-mo, no less) a rat shaking so that you and I can see its skeleton during the process.


Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 8.29.48 PM


And I still don’t know why Louie shakes except that he just feels like it.  Good enough.

Smile! You’ll live longer (or so happy people say…)

I don’t actually have much to say.  I just wanted to share some short videos (1 min or less) that I watch whenever I need a pick-me-up, whenever I need to smile.  And who doesn’t need those little attitude boosters every now and then?


I love this sooo much.  The description says that Tucker wasn’t trained to do this (which may or may not be true) but that he just does this everyday on his own.  I love to think that this dog just feels the need to express his artistic side.  If you really want to smile, read some of the viewer comments.

Keep Swimming

When I get frustrated, I tell myself “Keep Swimming.”  Dorie may have sung this, but my friend, Wendy, sent me this clip (*waves* Hi, Wendy), so I also think about her whenever I watch this.  And she is my example of pure energy–she is a dynamo.  That image also makes me smile (and giggle).  It may be dog paddling some days, but I’m swimming, damn it.

Cali Dancing

This is a video of my niece, Cali, dancing.  She had just gotten a new toy bear that sings “The Pina Colada Song”.  She is so happy and so free in dancing and expressing her joy.  It is just all about living in that moment for her.  My heart is gladdened when I see this.  And why shouldn’t it be?  It’s a bear and “The Pina Colada Song”!!  If it were a parrot, say, and “The Pina Colada Song”, eh, I probably wouldn’t dance.  That’s not that worthy of bootie-shaking.  But a bear and pina coladas — worth getting on the dance floor every time!

Feel free to add my videos to your arsenal of favorites.  Or let me know what your favorites are for putting on a smile.

Cat vs dog

I posted this picture of my cat earlier this week, happy as can be relaxing in the garbage.

Thelma Lou in the Trash

Then I found this picture of a dog, happy in his relaxed position.

How Happy Am I?


 Cats are weird.  But they kill rodents, so I love them.  Dogs are awesome, so I love them.  I am a cat and a dog person.  Yay, me!

(How did this blog end up about me?  I may be a little self-centered.)

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You. Seriously. Don’t Do It.

I learned something new over the past several days:  dog bites hurt.

How did I learn this?  My damn dog bit me!
More than once.
There are a lot of things that I accept from having a dog, including peeing in the house, digging in the yard, lots of dirt on the floor, etc.  What I don’t accept is my own dog biting me, of being afraid of my dog.
Ray, that little cutie patootie, had aggression issues, specifically with me.  While he never reacted badly with Matt, on more than one occasion, I only had to move towards him to send him into attack mode.
Ray, the little shit that bit me
He would charge across the room at me, like a lion hunting a wildebeest.  And like a lion, he aimed for the knees in an attempt to bring me down.  I hate to think what would have happened had he succeeded….
I am, of course, falling back on humor to defend against the fact that my heart is broken by the way that events have played out.  Because he stayed on such high alert with me, and I stayed on such high alert with him, it became very evident that this was not the right home for him.  And since he and Reynolds were a pair, we made the choice to return them both to the shelter (which was in the contract that we signed when we adopted them, that if there were any problems, we would return them to the shelter rather than give them away).
They were ecstatic to return to the shelter, which has become their home.  One of the volunteers at the shelter has basically adopted them herself, so we know that they are well loved and taken care of.  We are very sad that things did not work out with them, but my knees and my nerves are thankful that they are not under attack every day.
I miss the little guys.

Accidental Eavesdropping Is Never Good

Matt comes home.

me:  I can’t wait to tell you what I heard at work today!

Matt:  It’s going to have to wait until I change my clothes and I eat.

15 minutes later….

Matt:  Okay, tell me what happened.

me:  So, I’m sitting in the canteen this morning, working on my computer between meetings, and these two guys sit down at a table near me.  And this one guy is talking really loud.  I’m not trying to eavesdrop, really. I don’t wanna hear what they’re talking about, but he’s so loud.  He’s talking about going to the doctor, and he’s talking and talking.  And  I hear him say, “And then the doctor’s holding my genitals.”  And I’m like, “Really?”

Matt:  Is that it?  That’s kind of a let down.  I was expecting more after such a build up.

me:  Yeah, well, if I could have told you immediately after you came home, it wouldn’t have been such a build up.


me:  And the guy that he was talking to didn’t say a word.

Matt:  It was probably his boss.  What could he say?  He had to listen.

me:  I mean, the other guy couldn’t have cared about this guy’s balls?  Right?

Matt:  I don’t know.  Maybe it was like a warning.  Maybe the doctor was an eye doctor and the first guy was like, “Dude, don’t go see this guy because an eye exam ends up with your dick in his hands.”

Excellent point.  I would warn all my girlfriends if I went to the dentist and a speculum made an appearance.  I’m only “opening wide” at one end at a time.


Where is Matt?  I think he’s in the bathroom….


“Love, hell.  That damn stuff stinks.” 

Quote by my Great-Aunt Dot Miller

When we lost our dog, Nick, I didn’t know if I would be able to ever (1) get over his loss or (2) welcome another dog into my life.

But as time passed, I really started to miss having a dog around.  Of course, I missed Nick specifically, but I also just missed having a little ball of love around, the noise of nails clicking on the floor, of having something that I could talk to, etc.  And as a couple of hard personal events took place earlier this year, including a big fight with depression, I really missed having a dog that I could just pet at the end of a hard day.

Matt wasn’t nearly as keen as I was on getting another dog.  In fact, he really just didn’t want one.

And marriage is about compromise and give and take.  I could never bring an animal into a house where Matt wasn’t full on board.  A dog totally changes your lifestyle.  It would have been wrong to ask him to change his life because I wanted a dog.

But Matt loves me and saw how often I would look at dog adoption sites.  And talk about dogs.  And draw dogs.  So, last week, Matt started looking at dogs for adoption and found the little cuties that we just adopted.

He not only found them, he encouraged me to meet Ray.  He told me that two dogs would be ok when we found out that Ray and Reynolds were dumped together and were best friends.  He kept reassuring me that he would welcome them with open arms.

As we now have dogs in our house for the first time in over a year, we also are dealing with potty accidents in the house and the smell of dog.  And we clean up pee with vinegar and water and look at each other and talk about what sweethearts these two little monsters are.

Yes, love, that damn stuff, does stink.  Right now, it smells like dog and vinegar and water.  And that’s the smell of a husband who understood exactly how important a four-legged little fur-ball was to me.

Dog Tales

Hey!  My name is Ray.

This is my friend, Reynolds.

Some assholes kicked us out of their truck in front of the Humane Society of Catawba County.  On the asshole scale, I guess they ranked somewhere below 10 because the Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, but still, they were assholes.  Reynolds and I are 8 years old, that’s 56 of your human years, so we were these losers’ elders.  They treated us with no respect.

Anyway, the people at the Humane Society were righteous.  They took us in, cleaned us up, fed us, had the doc look over our old bones and put our pics out there on the internets for people to see.  No one came by for a long time.  I think it’s because they said that I had these things called “cat-racts” which means I can’t see.  I think that what they call it is must be wrong, because I’m a DOG, people, not a stupid cat.

That’s where our personal heroes come into the story.  Matt Elder (whose last name means that he understands how to respect us senior dogs) is a solid guy.  He saw my picture and showed it to his woman.  Said he thought I would be a good guy to have around the house (me and that dude get each other).

She finally caved.  Called the Humane Society and found out that I don’t go anywhere without my main guy, Reynolds.  Matt continued to show how he’s the kinda guy you want to be around — told Cristy that two dogs around the house would be just fine.  She and Matt visited us at our home at the shelter and realized just how cool R-man and I are.  And just like that, we’re now at home with M & C.

So, here’s the current sitch–C took us to get groomed and our new looks are fine.  My guess is that if we had had such awesome looking hair cuts while at the shelter, we would have been out of there a lot sooner.  (Women love a well-groomed man.)  Lucky for C & M, we were still around so that we could help them not be so lonely.

It’s a good thing we came along.  C & M needed us.

"My Dog" Movie Review

I just finished watching and crying over the sweetest documentary on Netflix.  The name of the documentary was My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story and was about just that — the love between a dog and its human.  (I hate to call us “owners” as we don’t really own a dog — we just get to love them and live in their space for a while.)

The documentary makers interviewed a lot of different celebrities about their dogs and asked them the question:  “Why do people love their dogs?”  And the stories proceeded from there.

I was so struck by how similar my thoughts and feelings about dogs were to these celebrities, people who live lives that are 180 degrees removed from the life that I live.  Yet, dogs seem to be one of the great equalizers, across geography, ethnicity, social strata and economic demographic.  Dogs are wonderful because they don’t care who their human is, what their human has succeeded or failed at that day, how much money their human makes, etc.  Dogs just want to be with us.  They are unconditional love in action.

copyright:  Matt Elder
Nick, the winter before he passed

I lost my soul mate dog, Nick, last year to prostate cancer.  I miss him everyday.  I miss saying good-bye to him every morning as he would follow me to the front door to watch me leave.  I miss seeing him run to say “hello” to me each day as I would come home.  I miss his presence.

In the documentary, Greg Louganis talks about how some of his HIV treatments made him really sick.  Some days, the only reason that he got out of bed was to take care of his dog.  I can totally relate.  I went through a really bad depression not long after I adopted Nick from a rescue shelter.  There were days where I spent the majority of the day in bed, and if it weren’t for Nick, the necessity to feed him, to let him out, to take care of him, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed at all.  And Nick seemed to know when he needed to put his head in my lap, and nudge me, as if to say, “Wanna talk?”  And I did.  I have told several people that Nick saved my life and I wasn’t exaggerating.

In the documentary, the crushing statistic is given that 6 to 8 million dogs are in shelters around the US (the movie was released in 2010, so it’s still fairly up-to-date), and nearly 50% of those dogs will be euthanized.  That was when I started to cry.

Let’s all go adopt a dog!  I don’t mean that we all collectively adopt one dog and share it, that wouldn’t really help, but each household go out and adopt one dog each.  And then spay or neuter it.  And then experience the uncomplicated love that comes from a dog.

I have to get Matt to agree to this plan for our house, but he doesn’t care about your house, so I’m really looking forward to hearing about all your new dogs!  Send me pictures.